ARC Review: The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez // an okay read, I’m just not straight enough for this

I was sent this book as an advance listening copy via libro.fm for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

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From the USA Today bestselling author of The Friend Zone comes an adorable and fresh romantic comedy about one trouble-making dog who brings together two perfect strangers.

Two years after losing her fiancé, Sloan Monroe still can’t seem to get her life back on track. But one trouble-making pup with a “take me home” look in his eyes is about to change everything. With her new pet by her side, Sloan finally starts to feel more like herself. Then, after weeks of unanswered texts, Tucker’s owner reaches out. He’s a musician on tour in Australia. And bottom line: He wants Tucker back.

Well, Sloan’s not about to give up her dog without a fight. But what if this Jason guy really loves Tucker? As their flirty texts turn into long calls, Sloan can’t deny a connection. Jason is hot and nice and funny. There’s no telling what could happen when they meet in person. The question is: With his music career on the rise, how long will Jason really stick around? And is it possible for Sloan to survive another heartbreak?

Release date: April 14th

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★★.5✩✩

This was perfectly average.

It takes place after The Friend Zone, which I haven’t read and you don’t need to read either because it stands alone perfectly.

Sloan is still mourning and grieving for her fiance who died two years before, then a dog almost literally falls from the sky and she kind of gets some of her shit together again. First of all, this might sound really silly but I love that she had two weeks to spend with this dog before she even heard from Jason, its actual owner, and that it was the dog’s presence in her life that made her find herself again. I know firsthand how a pet coming out of nowhere can literally change your life after a loss and it was so cute to see in a book, I would have legit read a whole novel just about this.

I also find the idea of two people connecting because of a dog really really cute and I want to see this in more novels! Pets are always cute to read about no matter what.

Talking about literally anything else, there’s nothing much that stood out to me as someone who’s read a fair bit of romance books. I don’t read a lot of mass market (is that how you call it?) romances and prefer to focus on more diverse ones, and I have to say this (other than the part about the dog) really only stood out for some sore spots or things I personally don’t like because they don’t, uh, fit my personal world view.

First of all, there is not one (1) diversity in sight, or at least not that I could tell from the audiobook. Okay. Then, the whole book was kind of full of stuff I personally find boring. Of course Sloan is perfect, she has a lean body even after two years of not exercising or not doing much of anything, she has a tan, she’s beautiful, she used to do beauty pageants, typical Cali girl. Okay. Then, Jason is a rock star but a really good guy, doesn’t do rock star things, comes from a good and loving family. This is not to say that any of this is bad per se, it just doesn’t make it stand out from any other white allocishet romance out there.

There was also stuff that bothered me because of my own beliefs, like hunting and both Sloan’s late fiance and someone else (I can’t remember but maybe Jason’s dad?) being ex military. This is stuff I’m not used to read about without at least one bit of criticism or disclaimer, it was literally just a couple of lines throughout the novel but it’s just one of the things that made me realize I just don’t vibe with this type of books with kind of a broader, more generic target audience, especially one that’s based in the US.

Also, I can’t not mention this. The sex was super cringy, I couldn’t take it seriously. Is this how straight people do it? Wow.

One thing I was positively surprised about after being annoyed by it for like 90% of the novel was how “the other girl” is actually given a bit of a redemption at the end and they even manage to be friends with her. I still think it’s gross that the stalking and sexual assault was kind of brushed off, because even if it’s done by a woman it’s still assault. I’m just trying to find some silver lining in the fact that eventually it was shown that Jason can be friends with a woman without it being weird, but I still don’t think the whole thing was handled super well.

I don’t want to give too much of the ending away, I just don’t get why every straight romance has to end with an epilogue years later and with such a predictable outcome. At some point straights are just begging to be made fun of and they kind of deserve it.

All in all I really don’t know what a right rating for this is so I went with the mathematical average of 2.5 stars, I found the audiobook for the most part enjoyable to listen to (even though for the first time in my life I listened at 2.25x speed) while doing other things, it was a good way to listen to something lighthearted and different from the books I’ve been reading recently, but it also reminded me why I always look for something a little more, um, woke.

TWs: grief, mention of drunk driving accident, sexual assault on page, stalking, violence, mention of pregnancy

6 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez // an okay read, I’m just not straight enough for this

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